According to Zahler, “It’s the nature of the industry that you go where the work is. Although we perform work throughout the state, and even nationally, it’s a great thing when you can tell your employees that for the next few months they will be home to participate in personal and family activities, something we realize is important in keeping our great team engaged and motivated.”

PBS also realizes that sustained growth will be dependent on the availability of a wider range of job types and opportunities. Despite its past reputation as a bedroom community, the area has seen a growth spurt in recent years as businesses have expanded operations or relocated. According to Dennis Jelle from the township of Blue Mounds, plan development to meet the growing demand for commercial and industrial space has been a top priority for the Village. Jelle stated, “Industrial-type businesses like American Provenance and Wisconsin Surplus have needs that exceed the current real estate available in our area. Blue Mounds has a lot to offer these businesses both in terms of value and space to design and build facilities to meet their exact requirements.”

According to Carol McChesney Johnson, leader of economic development for Mount Horeb, “The Village is thankful to have businesses like PBS who are doing their part to fuel growth through job creation that makes it possible for people to both live and work in our community.” McChesney Johnson goes on to say that in addition to development designed to further evolve Mount Horeb as a top destination spot, it realizes the opportunity that the manufacturing and commerce industries provide in supporting other local businesses, and the overall good of our community.

The businesses that will be moving into the new facility this summer, Water Quality Investigation and American Provenance, both locally owned, were seeking light industrial space; a loading dock was also on the must-have list for American Provenance. Regarding the desire to step up to help these business owners Leuzinger commented, “We feel good about making a contribution that helped keep both of these businesses in the area.”

PBS leaders also sit on a number of local boards dedicated to skills development for adults as well as youth. Angela Leuzinger, PBS’ Director of Finance & Operations, adds, “We would be remiss if we didn’t also do our part to help develop a labor pool capable of helping our local businesses fill these jobs. It is part of our mission and responsibility to support the community in its efforts to not only attract and retain the right businesses, but to also provide qualified employees to support the jobs they create.”

American Provenance Overview
Founded in 2015, American Provenance has been operating out of renovated barn on Kyle LaFond’s family farm outside of the village of Mount Horeb. When business quickly started to take off LaFond knew that he needed to find a suitable commercial space that would accommodate the increasing production demand and shipping needs, including loading docks. It was also a priority that the company stay true to its local heritage as the location itself has served as an inspiration to the products and brand.
According to LaFond, “The rolling hills of the Driftless region exemplifies a romantic destination with traditional values and an all-around pleasant setting. It’s just one of the reasons that I decided this needed to remain our home despite having outgrown our original space on my grandparent’s dairy farm which I visited often as a kid.”

A coach and mentor through his work with the UW Small Business Development Center, LaFond applies his experience to help other small business owners fulfill their dreams. LaFond says he knew he had found his new home when the owners of Premier Building Solutions (PBS), a family-owned general contractor in the Mount Horeb area, wanted to help him relocate to a facility that supported his business’ growing needs. One of PBS’ owners James Leuzinger stated, “As a small business ourselves we understood the challenges Kyle faced in managing his business growth and we wanted to help. The Mount Horeb community has much to offer small businesses such as Kyle’s and we wanted to do our part to help him stay here. It’s a win-win situation for everyone.” American Provenance’s new location beginning in July 2018 will be in a new building on PBS’ property located at 2581 WI-92, Mount Horeb, WI which has been designed and built specific to LaFond’s requirements.

According to Carol McChesney Johnson, leader of economic development for Mount Horeb it’s an exciting time of progress for the community. She states, “Mount Horeb has seen a recent boom in our housing economy and in the establishment of new retail venues in the downtown area.” McChesney Johnson goes on to say, “We understand that continued development will be reliant upon our ability to attract a diverse range of business types that draw people into our community.”

American Provenance currently has 8 employees and expects to add up to 10 additional team members over next few years based on its growth projections. In addition to LaFond, one employee is from the area and another recently relocated and built a new home to be closer to work. LaFond says he anticipates that others will follow as the company grows.  Originally a middle school science teacher, Kyle LaFond traded lesson plans for a business plan when he realized that chemicals in his every day personal products were causing headaches. This discovery led to a project where students were challenged to dissect various products and find better, healthier alternatives. The quest to find more natural solutions for these products drove LaFond to give up teaching to establish American Provenance in 2015. American Provenance’s products include high-quality natural personal care products for both men and women. Since its inception in 2015, the company is represented in more than 700 retail stores and realizes significant growth quarter over quarter. Its largest clients include Hy-Vee, Whole Foods and many regional cooperatives and markets.

Water Quality Investigations Overview
Like many new businesses Water Quality Investigations (WQI) got its start with a vision, and a basement. As the client base quickly grew to servicing statewide and national clients, so did the need for affordable space to accommodate the increased staff and equipment used in uncovering complex water quality issues.

According to WQI owner Andrew Jacque, that is where Premier Building Solutions (PBS), a general contracting firm from the Mount Horeb area, entered the picture. Jacque stated, “We were on a tight budget and needed a quick solution. When we were introduced to the owners at PBS it was apparent they understood our challenges and wanted to help. They get what it’s like to be a new business; they have been an asset to us throughout the entire process.” Jacque, a former professor at UW-Platteville, went on to say, “The genuinely good people here are just one of the reasons we wanted to remain in this area.”

Of the 10 full and part-time employees, four are current residents of the Mount Horeb area; Jacque expects that as the company grows more employees may choose to relocate to the area, helping to support the thriving community. Director of economic development for Mount Horeb Carol McChesney Johnson states, “In addition to positioning our community as a tourist destination, our growth strategy includes attracting a blend of business models that both serve and provide jobs for our residents.”
PBS owners James Leuzinger and Scott Zahler also acknowledge that finding local talent is the key to attracting and retaining long-term employees. James Leuzinger commented, “Operating in the building trades where labor shortages are an everyday reality, we are committed to being part of the solution to this growing challenge.” Leuzinger and Zahler along with their wives Angela and Wendy respectively, serve on multiple committees designed to support the local workforce needs. Additionally, they champion a new skills development initiative along with other community leaders to support the school district’s Tech Ed program to help prepare more students with technical skills suited to fill local positions after high school. Jacque adds, “It takes a village to build a company; Mount Horeb is the right community to support us in reaching our goals.” Originally a civil engineer, Andrew Jacque transitioned his career to the fields of chemistry and microbiology when he discovered a passion for water quality. WQI is unique in that it doesn’t just treat water issues but applies science to uncover and correct the true cause of the problem. Working with businesses, government, and homeowners, WQI uses innovative methods and techniques to support its mission of bringing an affordable solution to better our water quality holistically as they believe that everyone deserves good water, not just those who can afford it.